Tata Steel: Workers campaign over fears of an end to steelmaking in Wales

  • ITV Reporter Richard Morgan went to Port Talbot to speak to campaigners.

The steelworkers of Port Talbot fear that "if steel making stops it may not come back".

Steel campaigners in Port Talbot gathered on Thursday 2 November to save the steel industry.

The Local MP and MS for Aberavon have described plans concerning the future of Tata Steel and thousands of jobs in Port Talbot as "reckless" and "an act of industrial vandalism".

The board of the steel giant met in India on Wednesday 1 November to discuss its plans to decarbonise the site.

An expected announcement on job losses at Tata Steel's Port Talbot plant has been delayed.

Unite representative Ian Williams says if the announcement goes ahead then "200 years of history will be gone".

He said: "It is really important that we keep it here (Wales) and we fight for it. Obviously, we are concerned because if you're stopping steelmaking in South Wales. What is going to make you restart it?"

"We talk about mothballing we look at Llanwern when they mothballed their Hot Mill down there, and the Hot Mill has never come back on. So we have real concerns will electric arc even be built if you're stopping steelmaking in South Wales."

Workers gathered outside Tata Steel’s Port Talbot steelworks in South Wales on 15 September, 2023. Credit: PA Images

Condemning the potential loss of thousands of jobs in Port Talbot, a joint statement from Aberavon’s MP & MS said the "families of Port Talbot suffered huge anxiety" as their "futures were thrown into a black hole" following yesterday’s reported briefing given to the trade unions by Tata officials.

Stephen Kinnock, Member of Parliament for Aberavon highlighted "one thing that is clear" from Tata's meeting yesterday.

The statement read: "One thing is absolutely clear: Port Talbot steelworkers will never accept any plan that’s based upon the closing down our iron and steel making facilities and replacing the steel produced with supplies of steel coil made overseas perhaps even as far off as India, for however many years it will take to build a new electric arc furnace."

Steel campaigners in Port Talbot held a ‘day of action’ on Thursday 2 November gathering public support to save the steel industry. Credit: ITV Wales

Adding that "steelworkers are not hiding from change", it stated: "They know the future of steelmaking will be transformed, but they are simply not prepared to agree to a change plan that would destroy our steel-making, destroy thousands of jobs, and destroy the very fabric of our community."

Hoping that the delay from Tata is a step in the right direction, it stated: "The delay we all saw yesterday from Tata is a step in the right direction.

"A direction which will not see mass job losses and major economic impacts upon local communities and businesses in and around Port Talbot, and we will work alongside all parties who seek the same goals."

Over 50 businesses and community groups campaigned to save the steel industry including Afan United & Aberavon Green Stars, Port Talbot Gas Welfare Club, Afan Ales and San Portablo Streetwear and Fashion.

The campaign aimed to safeguard existing steel employment and create thousands of new decent jobs.

In September this year, Tata had been in talks with the government for months over state aid worth hundreds of millions of pounds to help switch to electric arc furnaces that can run on zero-carbon electricity.

In September workers gathered outside Tata Steel's Port Talbot steelworks in south Wales, as around 3,000 jobs are at risk. Credit: PA Images

But unions fear the move could lead to around 3,000 job losses, mainly at Port Talbot. 

A petition supporting the Workers’ Plan for Steel has received over 16,000 signatures.  

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "Unite’s Workers’ Plan for Steel campaign is already seeing results. But to ensure that Port Talbot’s steelworks becomes a global leader in green steel production, supporting decent well-paid jobs now and for generations to come, we need to keep our politicians’ feet to the fire. That’s why Unite is asking everyone in Port Talbot to demand politicians of all parties commit to the Workers’ Plan for Steel."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...